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  1. #1

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    Orphans sue Disney / ABC, say they were cheated out of gifts - Presstelegram.com

    Story at: http://origin.presstelegram.com/news/ci_5270548


    Orphans sue Disney/ABC
    Siblings say they were cheated out of gifts, money.

    By Sandy Mazza, Staff writer

    Article Launched: 02/20/2007 10:50:50 PM PST



    var requestedWidth = 0; if(requestedWidth < 300){ requestedWidth = 300; } From left to right, Sina Leomiti, Loki Leomiti, Charis Higgins, Phil Leomiti, Joshua Higgins, Jeremiah Higgins, and Joshua Leomiti in front of their newly remodeled home in Santa Fe Springs. The orphaned Higgins siblings are suing Disney / ABC. (Stephen Carr / Press-Telegram)




    if(requestedWidth > 0){ document.getElementById('articleViewerGroup').styl e.width = requestedWidth + "px"; document.getElementById('articleViewerGroup').styl e.margin = "0px 0px 10px 10px"; } LOS ANGELES - Five orphaned siblings whose "adoption" by a Santa Fe Springs family was featured on television are suing Disney/ABC International Television Inc.


    Charles, Michael, Charis, Joshua and Jeremiah Higgins are claiming they were cheated out of a home, gifts, cars and other items given to them by the producers of "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" and private donors.
    At a hearing on the lawsuit Tuesday in Los Angeles County Court, attorneys for both sides argued over the diary entries of one of the children and whether the entries should be allowed as evidence in the suit.

    The five Higgins siblings lost both of their parents suddenly within 3 months of each other in 2004, leaving them orphaned and homeless.
    They were taken in by the Leomiti family of Santa Fe Springs, who attended the same church, the Norwalk Assembly of God Church.

    When "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" learned about their story, the show's producers built a home for the children and the Leomiti family. The siblings also were given gifts, cars, and a Disneyland vacation in February 2005, according to their lawsuit.

    But the rags-to-riches fairytale didn't last long.
    According to their suit, the Leomiti family evicted the siblings from the newly built home in April, after they had received thousands of dollars in donated items meant for the children, along with gifts from the show's producers.


    The siblings were left with nothing, according to their suit, and as a result were forced to separate, their attorneys said.

    The Leomiti family retained the house, cars, and at least $50,000 in cash donations given to the Higgins children independently of the show, according to court documents.

    The youngest sibling, Jeremiah, left behind his diary at the Leomiti house. Defense attorneys argued Tuesday that portions of it should be entered into evidence.

    "The questions are: Why did the Higgins' leave the house? Was it voluntarily, or were they kicked out?" said attorney Mark Block, who represents the defendants.

    The diary "explains issues between the brothers," he added. The diary might show that the Higgins children left voluntarily because of arguments, defense attorneys said.

    But Patrick Mesisca, an attorney for the siblings, said the diary should be kept private.

    Judge Paul Gutman ordered both sides to "meet and confer" about the issue and return to court on Feb. 27. A trial date in the suit has been set for May 14.

    The siblings, who were between the ages 14 and 21 at the time the show was taped, filed suit against Disney/ABC International Television Inc. and other companies who produced, distributed and marketed the show.
    Their court complaint states that the siblings were given a fraudulent contract and promised things they never received.

    The show's contract was made between the producers and the Leomiti family, even though the Higgins' traumatic story is what prompted producers to build the house, said Mesisca.

    "Within a few days after their father died - their mom had died just a couple months earlier - ABC contacted the Higgins," said Mesisca. "The memos in-house reflect that the decision was made to provide assistance to the kids, even before their father's funeral service."
    But the show's producers argue that, since their contract was solely with the Leomitis family, not the siblings, there was no fraud or obligation to the Higgins siblings.
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  2. #2

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    Re: Orphans sue Disney / ABC, say they were cheated out of gifts - Presstelegram.com

    that is awful. I am sure the main lawsuit is with the family that kicked them out. these are kids even if the oldest is in his/her 20's they are still kids and you don't kick teenagers out for sure. I know there are two sides to every story and we havene't heard the other family's side so I will reserve judgement until I do, because right now it looks like these kids were taken advantage of in the worst way, not by disney or extreme makeover but by the family that took advantage of them.

  3. #3

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    Re: Orphans sue Disney / ABC, say they were cheated out of gifts - Presstelegram.com

    I agree. I don't see why DIsney is being sued, other than that they have the deep pockets. For shame.

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    Re: Orphans sue Disney / ABC, say they were cheated out of gifts - Presstelegram.com

    It sounds like the Leomiti family totally screwed them over. If they aren't going to take the orphans in then give back all the gifts and money.

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    Re: Orphans sue Disney / ABC, say they were cheated out of gifts - Presstelegram.com

    I have passed by that house many of times and know those people. My grandmother lived up the street from them in Santa Fe Springs. The Leomiti's are money hungry people, even before they adopted those kids and were featured on the show. It didn't surprise me that they dumped the kids after all the publicity. They are still living lavishly two years later.





  6. #6

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    Re: Orphans sue Disney / ABC, say they were cheated out of gifts - Presstelegram.com

    This is a very sad story. Too bad this had to happen to those kids. But to sue Disney??? I don't get it.


  7. #7

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    Re: Orphans sue Disney / ABC, say they were cheated out of gifts - Presstelegram.com

    They're suing Disney and ABC because of what reason?

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  8. #8

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    Re: Orphans sue Disney / ABC, say they were cheated out of gifts - Presstelegram.com

    Disney has lots of money most likely. I think it is stupid, Disney didn't kick them out of the house, nor did they keep or take back what they gave them to begin with. At least not that I know of. The ones they should sue is the Leomiti's.





  9. #9

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    Re: Orphans sue Disney / ABC, say they were cheated out of gifts - Presstelegram.com

    Quote Originally Posted by AhLowHee View Post
    They're suing Disney and ABC because of what reason?
    Because they think that they can.


    I'm sure that they realize that they haven't got a legal leg to stand on, but are hopeing that Disney will view it as a PR opportunity and give them something for free.
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  10. #10

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    Re: Orphans sue Disney / ABC, say they were cheated out of gifts - Presstelegram.com

    I hope Disney does not give them anything else. I hope if Disney does anything they will help the orphans take back their house and gifts.

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